Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed

Vern RAnother short and sweet book review-summary from legendary pastor Vern Ratzlaff, posting up on the Canadian prairies, pouring his heart and mind into anti-imperial theology and soul-tending.  Vern turns 80 this week.  As Ched Myers noted a few days ago: “in his long ministry he has opened so many new ways of being Anabaptist in a pluralistic world, ways that many of us try to walk with him.” We honor this elder for his service and way-of-Being in the world–a model of radical discipleship.

Parables as Subversive Speech: Jesus as Pedagogue of the Oppressed. William Herzog, Westminster, 1994.

Herzog focuses on the parables from the social/cultural analysis of Freire, Brazilian educator, whose work with the poor brought new attention to what could help people accept a perspective that would move beyond the immediate poverty and loss of hope. Herzog traces carefully the shifting interpretation systems of Jesus ‘the Parabaler’ and presents an interpretational approach that compares it with Freire’s methodology. Continue reading

Intimacy and Inner Work

SharkBy Tommy Airey

Ypsilanti, Michigan

Over the past four months, I enjoyed my little “sit-spot,” right in front of our one-bedroom flat in Ojai, CA, perfectly postured for daily communion with two dozen mourning doves posting up in a centuries-old Oak tree across the street.  This was a spiritual practice.

Our favorite afternoon adventure, though, was the Shelf Road run, a three-mile jaunt from sit-spot to a weather-beaten bench overlooking the entire Ojai Valley. It was a challenging climb up a steep fire road, but the endorphin-infused walk down together inevitably fueled the conversation.  Sweat stimulating Spirit.

On the way home from our final, wheezing, tree-pollen-intoxicated jog, a large lizard shimmied across the street right in front of us.  When we looked up, a red-tailed hawk fifty yards was homing in on us, attempting to turn the poor little guy into happy hour.  The lizard barely escaped under a conveniently parked Jeep.  The hawk perched up on that rig, waiting for him to journey back home. Continue reading

God Damn America?

SaudiBy Adam Ericksen, the Education Director for The Raven Foundation, exploring the intersections of mimetic theory, the news, religion, and popular culture. This piece was originally posted on the Raven Foundation website.  

Do you remember when Barack Obama first ran for president? An old video of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, surfaced during the middle of Obama’s campaign. The sermon scandalized a lot of people. There was such an uproar from both sides of the political aisle that even Obama had to cut ties to his pastor because Jeremiah Wright preached these words –

God Damn America!

Jeremiah Wright and the Uncomfortable Truth of U.S. History

Much of the media fixated on those words without providing the larger context of Wright’s sermon. But the larger context of the sermon was full of more uncomfortable truths about the United States. The truth that makes many white people uncomfortable is that America has failed to live up to our ideals of democracy, freedom, and equality. Continue reading

Conflicting Memorials: The Lord’s Table of Remembrance vs. The Nation’s Vow of Preeminence

Ken SehestedBy Ken Sehested

My earliest memory of Memorial Day is of my Dad, puttering in his garage shop (he was a mechanic and jack-of-all-trades fixer-upper) on a rare day off from work, listing to the Indianapolis 500 car race on a portable radio. On one of those occasions I remember using a hammer, and the concrete garage floor, helping him straighten nails for reuse.

Both my parents were children of the Depression. Thrift was a primal virtue even when it was no longer a necessity.

I have no doubt Dad would silently recall some of his war-time experience while enduring the monotony of listening to race cars doing 200 laps around an oval track at speeds in excess of 200 mph. He managed to survive being in the first wave of troops landing at Omaha Beach in the 1944 D-Day invasion of Europe, though I can remember only once in my life when he talked about those days. I was an adult before I knew he carried a bit of 88mm German artillery shrapnel, bone-embedded, behind his right ear.
Continue reading

Para Todos

Cop CameraA charge before “An Interfaith Day of Prophetic Action,” a protest in downtown Los Angeles (04.13.2017) over recent actions by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents:

We will be sanctuary for all.
No exceptions.
Not one more.
No more separating families.
Para Todos.
This is just the beginning.
There will be a next one until justice prevails.
An organized community is a secure community.
We will abide by the principles of nonviolent resistance.
We will stay focused.
We will stay in prayer.
We will stay in the radical love of God.

The Crisis We Face

Chris HedgesBy Chris Hedges, from his most recent TruthDig column “Trump is the Symptom, not the Disease,” as always, keeping it real:

Forget the firing of James Comey. Forget the paralysis in Congress. Forget the idiocy of a press that covers our descent into tyranny as if it were a sports contest between corporate Republicans and corporate Democrats or a reality show starring our maniacal president and the idiots that surround him. Forget the noise. The crisis we face is not embodied in the public images of the politicians that run our dysfunctional government. The crisis we face is the result of a four-decade-long, slow-motion corporate coup that has rendered the citizen impotent, left us without any authentic democratic institutions and allowed corporate and military power to become omnipotent. This crisis has spawned a corrupt electoral system of legalized bribery and empowered those public figures that master the arts of entertainment and artifice. And if we do not overthrow the neoliberal, corporate forces that have destroyed our democracy we will continue to vomit up more monstrosities as dangerous as Donald Trump. Trump is the symptom, not the disease. Continue reading

More Deadly

CollumbusAn excerpt from chapter one of Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States (1980):

It is not that the historian can avoid emphasis of some facts and not of others. This is as natural to him as to the mapmaker, who, in order to produce a usable drawing for practical purposes, must first flatten and distort the shape of the earth, then choose out of the bewildering mass of geographic information those things needed for the purpose of this or that particular map.

My argument cannot be against selection, simplification, emphasis, which are inevitable for both cartographers and historians. But the map-maker’s distortion is a technical necessity for a common purpose shared by all people who need maps. The historian’s distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released into a world of contending interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual. Continue reading